Nineveh was not a godly place. In fact, it was a ruthless wicked place that was a staunch enemy of Israel. That is important background information to the reaction of Jonah when he was called by God to give a message of grace and peace to that wicked city. Do you remember what happened when that message of grace came to Nineveh? They did in fact repent. The people of wicked Nineveh, the capital of Assyria, repented! That is recorded in the book of Jonah, but we are going to consider a verse in Nahum.
About 100 years after this remarkable repentance brought about by the message from the LORD through Jonah, Nineveh was back to its old wicked plots. It had already been used by God to take the Northern Kingdom of Israel into captivity in 722 BC and it had attempted to take the Southern Kingdom (Judah) as well though at that time Assyria suffered a great defeat (Isaiah 37:36-38). Around 50 years later Assyria was plotting to attack Judah once again. Nahum is written during this time and it is a word regarding the judgment of Nineveh and certainly was a book of comfort to Judah knowing that Nineveh would not succeed in carrying out her threats against Judah.
The book opens with a remarkable revelation of God who protects His people against their [His!] enemies:
The oracle of Nineveh. The book of the vision of Nahum the Elkoshite. 2 A jealous and avenging God is the LORD; The LORD is avenging and wrathful. The LORD takes vengeance on His adversaries, And He reserves wrath for His enemies. 3 The LORD is slow to anger and great in power, And the LORD will by no means leave the guilty unpunished. In whirlwind and storm is His way, And clouds are the dust beneath His feet. 4 He rebukes the sea and makes it dry; He dries up all the rivers. Bashan and Carmel wither; The blossoms of Lebanon wither. 5 Mountains quake because of Him And the hills dissolve; Indeed the earth is upheaved by His presence, The world and all the inhabitants in it. 6 Who can stand before His indignation? Who can endure the burning of His anger? His wrath is poured out like fire And the rocks are broken up by Him. 7 The LORD is good, A stronghold in the day of trouble, And He knows those who take refuge in Him. 8 But with an overflowing flood He will make a complete end of its site, And will pursue His enemies into darkness (Nahum 1:1-8).
And then in Nahum 1:9 there is a direct word given to those of Nineveh that were plotting against Judah:
Whatever you devise against the LORD, He will make a complete end of it. Distress will not rise up twice (Nahum 1:9)
The Lord had raised Assyria up to deal with Israel and He would raise up Babylon to deal with Judah in time, but Assyria had become proud and was wicked all along. And so, the LORD clearly tells Nineveh that they could devise plans against Judah all they wanted, but He would simply “make a complete end of it.”
What does all of this have to do with those who are God’s people today by faith in Jesus Christ? It simply means this, the God that we serve is a God who is righteous and just and deals with the wicked. He deals with wicked nations and He is not hindered by their plots. The God that we serve is a God that tells the most powerful empire of the world that it can devise all it wants against His people but that those plots will simply be brought to an end. There is no enemy of the truth, no enemy of the church, and no enemy of those who follow Jesus who are able to act unbridled toward them. Notice that the Lord is clear that Nineveh’s devising and plotting was against Him. Yes, Nineveh had Judah in its cross hairs, but Israel was God’s nation therefore Nineveh was plotting against Him. We serve a God who identifies Himself with His people because His purposes are at work in His people. He has tied up His glory with His people. Therefore He identifies with His people against their/His enemies and acts on His/their behalf.
Often those who follow Christ can become disheartened by the extent to which this country and the nations in general are turning away from the truth and mocking the truth by calling good evil and evil good. Yes, the raging of the nations can be very disconcerting, but remember that that rage is ultimately against God Himself to whom the nations and their peoples do not want to submit Psalm 2:1-3:
Why are the nations in an uproar And the peoples devising a vain thing? 2 The kings of the earth take their stand And the rulers take counsel together Against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying, 3 “Let us tear their fetters apart And cast away their cords from us!” (Psalm 2:1-3 )
But what is His response? What is the response of this great God who is good and a stronghold in the day of trouble and who knows those who take refuge in Him (Nahum 1:7)? Well, we know this, He will bring a complete end to their plots according to His timetable. And we also know that even when it looks as if things are getting out of hand with God’s enemies against His purposes and His people this is His response:
He who sits in the heavens laughs, the Lord scoffs at them (Psalm 2:4).
Why does He laugh? It has everything to do with the fact that He knows His enemies will not prevail and He will be glorified and His people will be glorified in Him for all eternity. How does He know that? Because…
“But as for Me, I have installed My King Upon Zion, My holy mountain.” (Psalm 2:6)
He knows that all of His purposes in Christ His Son will take place. Christ will conqueror all. How will this take place? He was lifted up on the cross to conquer by grace and He is coming back one day to conqueror in judgment. Knowing this future, those who have been conquered by grace not only know they are on the right side, but they can love their enemies as Christ loved His enemies doing good to those who hate them in light of the future. Those of us in Christ know that such vulnerability will not throw off God’s victory in Christ that we share in. No, it will carry out and further His victory in this world. Because we know that ultimately all of the plots of God’s enemies against us as His people will be frustrated, we can love our enemies with the gospel and invite them to know this God who purses His enemies into darkness, but who also transfers enemies from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of His Son.
We can and must worship the God who brings an end to the plots of the wicked and who is a stronghold for us as we trust in Him. In what way can you worship this God? One important way would be to love the very enemies that are plotting against you. You do this securely because God frustrates the plots of His enemies.